Richie Cole (musician)

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Richie Cole
Background information
Born(1948-02-29)February 29, 1948
Trenton, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedMay 2, 2020(2020-05-02) (aged 72)
Carnegie, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Years active1969–2020
LabelsMuse, Palo Alto, Heads Up

Richie Cole (February 29, 1948 – May 2, 2020) was an American jazz saxophonist, composer, and arranger.

Early life[edit]

Cole was born in Trenton, New Jersey.[1] He began to play alto saxophone when he was ten years old, encouraged by his father, who owned a jazz club in New Jersey. He was a graduate of Ewing High School, in Ewing Township, New Jersey.[2][3] Cole won a scholarship from DownBeat magazine to attend the Berklee School of Music in Boston.


In 1969, he joined drummer Buddy Rich's Big Band. After working with Lionel Hampton's Big Band and Doc Severinsen's Big Band, he formed his own quintet and toured worldwide, developing his own "alto madness" bebop style in the 1970s and early 1980s. He formed the Alto Madness Orchestra in the 1990s.[4]

Cole performed and recorded with Eddie Jefferson,[4] Nancy Wilson, Tom Waits, The Manhattan Transfer, Hank Crawford, Freddie Hubbard, Eric Kloss, Bobby Enriquez, Phil Woods,[4] Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, and Boots Randolph.[4] He recorded over fifty albums, including his albums Hollywood Madness (Muse, 1979) and Richie Cole Plays West Side Story (Music Masters, 1997), a tribute to Leonard Bernstein.

He was appointed to the Board of the National Jazz Service Organization and the Board for the National Endowment for the Arts where he served as chairman for one year. He was a charter member of the International Association of Jazz Educators.

In 2005, he was awarded the State of California Congressional Certificate of Lifetime Achievement in Jazz on behalf of the Temecula Jazz Society.

Cole died of natural causes on May 2, 2020.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Cole was briefly engaged to actress Brenda Vaccaro in 1979. He has two daughters, Amanda Marrazzo, a writer/reporter/producer and Annie Cole, a music agent.


As leader[edit]

  • Trenton Makes, the World Takes (Progressive, 1976)
  • Starburst with Reuben Brown Trio (Adelphi, 1976)
  • Battle of the Saxes with Eric Kloss (Muse, 1976)
  • New York Afternoon with Eddie Jefferson (Muse, 1977)
  • Alto Madness with Eddie Jefferson (Muse, 1978)
  • Keeper of the Flame with Eddie Jefferson (Muse, 1979)
  • Hollywood Madness with Eddie Jefferson, The Manhattan Transfer (Muse, 1979)
  • Side by Side with Phil Woods (Muse, 1980)
  • Cool 'C' (Muse, 1981)
  • Tokyo Madness (Seven Seas/King [Japan], 1981)
  • Alive! at the Village Vanguard (Muse, 1981)
  • Return to Alto Acres with Art Pepper (Palo Alto, 1982)
  • The Wildman Meets the Madman with Bobby Enriquez (GNP Crescendo, 1982)
  • Yakety Madness! with Boots Randolph (Palo Alto, 1983)
  • Alto Annie's Theme (Palo Alto, 1983)
  • Some Things Speak For Themselves (Muse, 1983)
  • Bossa Nova Eyes (Palo Alto, 1985)
  • Pure Imagination (Concord Jazz, 1986)
  • Popbop (Milestone, 1987)
  • Signature (Milestone, 1988)
  • Bossa International with Hank Crawford (Milestone, 1990)
  • Profile (Heads Up, 1993)
  • Kush: The Music of Dizzy Gillespie (Heads Up, 1996)
  • West Side Story (Venus [Japan], MusicMasters, 1996)
  • Trenton Style (Jazz Excursion, 1998)
  • Pure Madness (32 Jazz, 1999) compilation
  • Come Sunday: My Kind Of Religion (Jazz Excursion, 2000)
  • A Tribute to Our Buddies (Fresh Sound, 2004)
  • Back on Top (Jazz Excursion, 2005)
  • A Piece of History (Jazz Excursion, 2006)
  • Rise's Rose Garden (Jazz Excursion, 2006)
  • The Man with the Horn (Jazz Excursion, 2007)
  • Live at KUVO 2/11/08 (Jazz Excursion, 2008)
  • Bebop Express (Jazz Excursion, 2008)
  • The KUVO Sessions, Volume 2 (Jazz Excursion, 2009)
  • Castle Bop with Emil Viklicky (Multisonic, 2011)
  • Vocal Madness with Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet (House Cat, 2014)
  • Breakup Madness (Akashic, 2014)
  • Mile Hi Madness (Akashic, 2015)
  • Pittsburgh (Richie Cole Presents, 2015)
  • Plays Ballads and Love Songs (Richie Cole Presents, 2016)
  • Have Yourself an Alto Madness Christmas (Richie Cole Presents, 2016)
  • The Many Minds of Richie Cole (Richie Cole Presents, 2017)[6][7][8]
  • Latin Lover (Richie Cole Presents, 2017)
  • Cannonball (Richie Cole Presents, 2018)
  • The Keys of Cool with Tony Monaco (Richie Cole Presents, 2019)

As sideman[edit]


  • From Village Vanguard [includes both the Johnny Griffin Quartet and the Richie Cole Group (a quintet) in two separate sets/performances; recorded 1981] (2004)
  • Eddie Jefferson in Concert Featuring Richie Cole: Live from the Jazz Showcase Recorded at Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase in Chicago on May 6, 1979 (50 minutes)
  • Jazz Legends Live! – part 9 of 13 in this series, starring Dexter Gordon, Gary Burton, Billy Cobham, Ahmad Jamal, Carmen McRae, and Richie Cole (1 song - "Confirmation" - 4 minutes)
  • Cool Summer [includes both the Stan Getz Quartet and Alto Madness (Richie's quintet with Bobby Enriquez) in two separate sets/performances at the Paul Masson Winery in California as part of the "Harvest Jazz" TV series; recorded 1981]


  1. ^ Provizer, Norman. "RICHIE COLE BRINGS SAX APPEAL TO VARTAN", Rocky Mountain News, April 4, 1996. Accessed March 25, 2012. "On his current CD, Kush: The Music of Dizzy Gillespie, alto saxophonist Richie Cole spends most of his time in the company of a large brass section.... Instead, the Trenton, N.J. native will be in a quartet setting for a live recording on the Vartan Jazz label."
  2. ^ Bailey, Marilynn E. "Cole Bebops Into Greatness", Evening Independent, December 2, 1978. Accessed March 25, 2012. "Cole says he was pleased when he learned he and Johnson had gone to the same high school — Ewing High — in Trenton."
  3. ^ "Richie Cole | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 94/5. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  5. ^ Chinen, Nate, "Richie Cole, Esteemed Alto Saxophonist and a Keeper of the Bebop Flame, Has Died at 72",, May 3, 2020.
  6. ^ "Discography – Richie Cole". Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Richie Cole | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Richie Cole". Discogs. Retrieved 2 May 2017.

External links[edit]